• Offered by ANU Legal Workshop
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law, Legal Practice
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online
  • Offered in First Semester 2017
    Second Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

Students undertaking any ANU graduate program may apply for this course. Enrolments are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Email lwsa.law@anu.edu.au

The course examines how family law disputes are resolved under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). It also examines the social and political context of family law, critically examining the values that inform it. As it is not possible to cover all of the legal rules under the Family Law Act in one semester, this course will provide an in-depth and integrated understanding of the legal principles and skills that are central to ‘bread and butter’ family law practice. The course is structured such that the student will gain knowledge of, and the ability to apply, the key legal principles in the first 8 weeks of the course. In the latter part of the course, the course will critically examine a selected family law topic in more depth.

The course is of general use to all law students because family law touches the lives of many Australians, both directly and indirectly. This course would also be useful for anyone thinking of practising in the area of family law, or who might be interested in working in family law policy. As there will be opportunities in the second half of the semester to critically reflect on the social and other values underlying family law and its reform, the course may also appeal to the student who is interested in law reform and social justice issues.
“Lecture” style material will be provided in digital form.

During online seminars or asynchronous discussions, students will engage in interactive activities designed to support the intended learning outcomes of the course. This will include activities on group work, reflective practice and practical problem solving. Students will be free to view and listen to the digital lectures at the times that are most convenient to them.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfactory completion of the course requirements, a student will (at a minimum) be able to:
  1. Demonstrate mastery of key principles of family law including an extended understanding of recent developments, and be able to cite the relevant legislative provisions and case law appropriately.
  2. Apply knowledge of family law creatively and with initiative to construct an accurate written advice that addresses a factually complex hypothetical family law problem, and present that advice to a specialist and non-specialist audience.
  3. Identify and use a range of legally-specific research principles, methods and tools appropriate to respond to a factually complex family law problem.
  4. Synthesise complex information on key aspects of family law including recent developments, and selected secondary academic literature and theoretical writing about family law and its reforms.
  5. Critically evaluate perspectives and values that are relevant to family law and critically examine (in written and oral form) those perspectives and values.
  6. Acquire experience in collaborative learning and demonstrate personal and communication skills to function effectively in small groups.
  7. Plan and execute a substantial research project.
  8. Reflect coherently upon learning in the course, the student’s own values, the values underlying the family law system, and the differences between family law and practice in other legal areas, and comment on those differences at a theoretical level.

Indicative Assessment

The assessments include participation in online and interactive forum discussions on a range of family law topics relevant to legal research and professional legal practice. The forums (15%) promote a deeper understanding of the discretionary nature of family law and practice and the connections between family law and social science, and include qualitative feedback by the convenor on many posts to promote deeper appreciation of the law in context. (Learning outcomes 2, 5, 8)
In addition, there are weekly short quizzes (36%), designed to maintain focus on the readings and to facilitate incremental learning of course content. (Learning Outcomes 1,4)
Two key pieces of assessment include:
1. an individual legal research paper with a letter of advice written to a client (based on the research paper) summarising the research and applied to the client's scenario (3,200 words, 25%. Learning outcomes 1,3,4,5,7)
2. a team-based, short research exercise on planning and preparing a submission on law reform to a Parliamentary Inquiry.  (2,000 words, 24%. Learning outcomes 1,3,4,5,6,7)
There is no exam in this course.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


10-12 hours per week during the semester online via Wattle

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (7300XLLM, MLLM), Master of Laws specialising in International Law (7300XSINTL), Master of Laws specialising in Law, Governance and Development (7300SLGD), Master of Laws specialising in Environmental Law (7300SENVL), Master of Laws specialising in Government and Commercial Law (7300SGCL), Master of Laws specialising in International Security Law (7300SISL), Master of Laws in Migration (NLLML), Master of Laws in International Law (NLLIL), Master of Laws in Environmental Law (NLLEN), Master of Laws in Law, Governance & Development (NLLGD), Master of Laws in International Security Law (NLLSL), Master of Laws in Government and Regulation (NLLGR), Master of Laws (Legal Practice) (7312XLLMLP), Master of Diplomacy/Master of Laws (7883SINTL, 7883XLLM), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP). OR Must be studying a: Master of Diplomacy/Master of International Law (7893XMINTL), Master of International Law (7310XMINTL), Master of Environmental Law (7309XMENVL), Master of Law, Governance & Development (7317XMLGD), Master of International Security Law (7318XMISL), Master of Government and Commercial Law (7313XMGCL), Master of Legal Studies (7305XMLEGS), and completed LAWS8015 Fundamentals of Government and Commercial Law or LAWS8587 Legal Framework of Regulation. OR Must be studying a Juris Doctor (7330XJD, 7330HJD or MJD) and have completed or be completing five LAWS1000 level courses or five LAWS6100 level courses. OR Must be studying a Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or are completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions and LAWS8587 Legal Framework of Regulation. OR Must be studying a Juris Doctor (MJDOL) and have completed the course LAWS8712 Australian Public Law & International Law B. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed LAWS4217 Family Law.

Prescribed Texts

The prescribed texts for the course are;
• Harland, A. et al, Family Law Principles, Thompson - this text may be changed from time to time.
• Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
* Family Violence Best Practice Principles
* Family Law Council Best Practice Guidelines

Preliminary Reading

It will be beneficial for students to introduce themselves to the subject matter by reviewing the various publications available on the Family Court website at www.familylawcourts.gov.au

Other materials will be provided online and will include the materials identified within the topic areas above.

Assumed Knowledge

This course is not available to students in the Graduate Certificate of Law, or any of the non-law masters programs


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3660
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4878
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3752 20 Feb 2017 27 Feb 2017 31 Mar 2017 26 May 2017 Online N/A

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8832 24 Jul 2017 31 Jul 2017 31 Aug 2017 27 Oct 2017 Online N/A

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